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Plant City takes 7-on-7 tournament title.

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Plant City entered the offseason having to replace its top passer (Nick Felice) and its top four  leading receivers (Mario Williams, Reagan Ealy, Aromoni Rhome and Brent Coton).

The biggest loss was Williams, who won the Guy Toph award as the top player in Hillsborough County last season after racking up 743 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Rated by ESPN as the top receiver in the county, Williams already is making a name for himself at the collegiate level after an impressive spring as an early enrollee at Oklahoma. 

Those departures had many wondering how the Raiders’ passing game would fare this year. 

So far, Plant City is showing it is more than capable of having potent air attack, especially after winning the third annual Faith and Football Classic, presented by Advent Health. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes hosted 32 area teams in a 7-on-7 tournament at the Sportsplex of Tampa Bay this past weekend. 

The Raiders went undefeated, culminating with a 21-14 victory over American Collegiate in the championship game. 

“I’m pleased with what we were able to do,” Plant City coach James Booth said. “This was a great atmosphere, and a well-organized event. We’ve gone to the FCA-sponsored event in Lakeland and won back-to-back titles before.

“This was the first time coming to this event, and this is something that gives us some confidence after beating some sound teams this weekend.”

Clinton Danzey, a junior, is taking over at quarterback for the Raiders. He still has plenty of playmaking targets at his disposal, including seniors Romello Jones and Sincere Williams (younger brother of Mario) and junior Jae Sawyer. 

Another receiver that stood out is CJ McClain, a sophomore who caught the go-ahead touchdown in the championship game.

“CJ showed that he is capable of having a role for us on varsity,” Booth said. 

The tournament also included a big man camp for linemen and a kicking competition. Cypress Creek’s Colton Corrao won the kicking contest.  

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The Hernando County Football Player of the Week

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FB/LB Zack Buzze, Sr., Central

This season has been challenging for the winless Bears. 

Outscored 325-22 in eight games, Central tries to accentuate the positives to build upon next season.  

Zack Buzze is one of the bright spots. The linebacker leads the team in tackles with 44. 

Against Gulf two weeks ago, Buzze recorded a team-high 13 tackles. 

That got the attention of fans. Buzze received 49 percent of the votes (699) in the Hernando County football player of the week poll to beat out Hernando’s Jordan Williams, who had 44 percent (628 votes).

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The Pasco County Football Player of the Week

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Hunter McFarland, Sr., Mitchell

After losing 26 players to graduation, Mitchell needed to fill plenty of voids to make the playoffs for the eighth straight season. 

Hunter McFarland has stepped up on defense. 

The senior is enjoying the best season of his high school career. He has 53 tackles, more than he had in his previous two seasons combined. 

McFarland also a nose for the ball — and the quarterback. He has forced three fumbles, recorded 3 ½ sacks and recovered two fumbles. 

Against Hudson two weeks ago, McFarland finished with five tackles, two fumble recoveries, a sack and forced fumble to lead the Mustangs to a victory. 

Fans were impressed. McFarland ended up with 52 percent of the votes (1,462) in the Pasco County football player of the week poll to beat out Zephyrhills Christian’s Jayce Nixon, who had 34 percent (955 votes).  

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The Pinellas County Football Player of the Week

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LB Garrick Ponder, Sr., Pinellas Park

A transfer from Seminole, Garrick Ponder wasted no time making an impact. 

The senior not only became a starter but also turned into one of the area’s defensive stars.

Ponder leads the Patriots in tackles (72), sacks, (six), forced fumbles (three) and fumble recoveries (two). Those numbers are a big reason the Patriots are 6-1 and currently tied with Northeast for second place in Class 6A, District 11. 

Against St,. Petersburg, Ponder had one of his best performances, finishing with 14 tackles and a sack. 

Fans were impressed. Ponder received 40 percent of the votes (812) in the Pinellas County football player of the week poll to beat out Keswick Christian’s Caleb Morris, who had 32 percent (646).   

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